Screwtape Letter #20 – Discussion Guide

Letter #20

More bad news

– for Wormwood.

My dear Wormwood,

I note with great displeasure that the Enemy has, for the time being, put a forcible end to your direct attacks on the patient’s chastity. You ought to have known that He always does in the end, … I suppose you’ve tried persuading him that chastity is unhealthy?

I haven’t yet got a report from you on young women in the neighbourhood. … which he should be encouraged to fall in love with if ‘falling in love’ is the best we can manage.

20.1) It seems that all parties have now figured out that the attacks won’t continue – that The Enemy will put an end to them at some point – at least that what Screwtape tell Wormwood. But is that what really happened? Have the attacks really stopped – or is it just the impact? What’s the difference? What’s the importance of us (the patients) realizing this?





Have the attacks really stopped?
If you were the patient - how would you feel now?
Is it important to know if we're 'safe'

In a rough and ready way, of course, this question is decided for us by spirits far deeper down in the Lowerarchy than you and I. It is the business of these great masters to produce in every age a general misdirection of what may be called sexual ‘taste’. … It is all a fake, of course; … What follows you can easily forecast!

20.2) Since the attacks aren’t going to stop – a discussion on their background is forthcoming.

It’s all fake, of course. There’s a simple little one word question that might help to make this more obvious: “why?”

Jesus says we should be like children. Here are just 3 examples.:

Mt 11:25 At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. 26 Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure.”

Mt 18:2 He called a little child and had him stand among them. 3 And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

Mt 19:14 Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” 15 When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there.

Children love to ask questions. According to an article is Science News a couple years ago ( they also want not just answers, but explanations. What would happen if we asked “why” more often – and kept asking until we got a good explanation?





The word “Why” occurs 502 times in the entire NIV translation of the Bible. It’s there 99 times in the Gospels alone.  All those opportunities for explanation!  

The first time in the Bible someone asked 'why'
The first time Jesus asked 'why'
The first time in the Gospels someone other than Jesus asked 'why'

So – how does the word ‘why’ fit into your life?  Asking and answering!

That is the general strategy of the moment. But inside the framework you will still find it possible to encourage your patient’s desires in one of two directions. … In the face, it is the visible animality, or sulkiness, or craft, or cruelty which he likes, and in the body, something quite different from what he ordinarily calls Beauty, something he may even, in a sane hour, describe as ugliness, but which, by our art, can be made to play on the raw nerve of his private obsession.

The real use of the infernal Venus is, no doubt, as prostitute or mistress. But if your man is a Christian, and if he has been well trained in nonsense about irresistible and all-excusing ‘Love’, he can often be induced to marry her. … And, by the way, they are not only efficient, but delightful; the unhappiness produced is of a very lasting and exquisite kind,

Your affectionate uncle


20.3) Screwtape continues to go on planning for more attacks – even though “The Enemy” has put a forcible stop to them.

It seems that Screwtape doesn’t even believe himself that “The Enemy” has put an end to the attacks, as he said at the beginning. In any case – they will continue. Is this wasting time – or is there still an opportunity? Looking at famous people in the news who “should” have known better – what can we learn?





How about picking a fallen preacher to look at?
Can we learn something from Hosea?



Series Navigation<< Screwtape Letter #20 – QuestionsScrewtape Letter #21 – Questions >>

References   [ + ]

1. A Treasury of Great Preaching — The entire book is available – free – from Google Books using this link.

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